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C2C Country 2 Country Review

Denne artikkelen er over ett år gammel, og kan inneholde utdatert informasjon.

For many years the Country Music Association has organized the CMA music festival in Nashville; a festival that has become a destination holiday for thousands of fans from all over the world wanting to see the genre’s most popular stars. Last year they decided to also organize a festival in London, UK and a new tradition was born. The two day long Country 2 Country festival brings country music’s biggest acts to the ever growing European public. This year, while the festival also expanded to Dublin, Ireland, was even bigger and better then the first.

During the day fans had the opportunity to roam the O2 Arena where they could find lots of pop up stages that featured many local artists like Raintown, Gary Quinn and McKay Band but also featured American artists like Jill and Kate and the remarkable Nashville based Striking Matches who also played the CMA songwriters night the Friday night before the festival. Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis had attracted a lot of attention the night before so it wasn’t a surprise to see the town square fill up for their pop up performance. Gary Quinn also attracted a lot of people to the town square (of which you can see a video below) and Scotland’s Raintown filled the Brooklyn Bowl bar to it’s capacity showing that local talent is alive and kicking.

There was also a market full of country music related stalls, which included music, clothing, jewelry and magazines, that fans loved as most of these items aren’t easy to come by out here in Europe.

The main attraction however was the big stage. With an amazing line up fans from all over Europe flew in to enjoy it all. Besides the local English, Welsh and Scots there were people from Norway, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France. Heck there were even Americans and Canadians!

Martina McBrideSaturday night started with the oh-so talented Martina McBride. Like Striking Matches she had also played the songwriters night the evening before but she shifted into high gear now that she was on the big stage. Opening up with “Wild Angels” and combining songs from her new album “Everlasting” with well known hits like “Daughters”, “Independence Day” and “This one’s for the girls” (of which you can see a video below). Martina was a great start to the festival. At some moments she sounded a little less perfect then what we’ve become to expect of her. Her normal heavenly voice now seemed to have a harder time with the high notes. This might’ve had something to do with the horrible flight and delay she had coming into Europe. But she still delivered and got the crowd going.

Dierks Bentley

The second to hit the stage was Dierks Bentley. Immediately setting the tone with “Am I The Only One” Dierks made sure to let everyone know he was here to have a good time. The fans absolutely loved it and were on their feet from the second he stepped on stage. His fun and high energy performance included “Free and Easy”, “5-1-5-0” and “Tip It On Back”. At some point he even brought a fan on stage after noticing she was singing along to all the songs. He gave her his guitar and sat down while she took the opportunity to rock out and play air guitar. Dierks however also slowed it down a bit to tell the story behind his current number 1 single “I Hold On” which is about his old guitar and his 1949 Chevy truck which he roadtripped in with his dad. He then continued with the very personal “Riser”, the title track of his recently released album, which was played with such emotion and really showed off his musicianship (you can see a video of “Riser” below) and went on to play “Up On The Ridge”, “Wish You Were Here” – a Pink Floyd cover and “Hey Brother” – an Avicii cover. Ending on a high with “Sideways“ and “What Was I Thinking” Dierks jumped off the stage and into the audience to dance with one of the girls that actually was wearing the “little white tank top» he was singing about. He then said that he was going home to tell all his friends: Luke, Jason, Blake and Miranda that country music has a new home. “Thank you guys for making us feel like home” and then ended his absolutely amazing show stealing performance by playing “Home”.

Dixie ChicksWho can follow such an amazing performance you’d ask, well the Dixie Chicks could! Playing London again for the first time after the infamous remark by Natalie on then President Bush on the eve of the Iraq invasion in 2003. Many wondered why the female band was on the bill as the girls haven’t released any new music since nor had they been playing together. After taking the stage and playing “Taking The Long Way” it was kind of odd to see that, even though the harmonies sounded great and they were playing all the familiar songs that we all still love so much, the girls didn’t have any interaction with each other on stage. With Natalie in the middle and Marty and Emily on either side, the sisters did change sides but they didn’t come together on stage at all. That aside, the girls sounded exactly the same as all those years ago and songs like “Goodbye Earl” and “Sinwagon” really got the crowd excited. “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Wide Open Spaces” were definite crowd pleasers as well. You could feel the tension in the air when they started playing “I’m Not Ready To Make Nice” but it earned them a standing ovation and Natalie joked about it saying that London will always be a special place for them. The girls ended their set with a cover of Bob Dylan’s Mississippi.

Zac Brown BandThe headliner of the night was non other then Zac Brown Band. And what and ending to a great first day these talented men were.  Where to begin!? These men are known for their impeccable musicianship and they managed to show it off in multitude. Opening up with “Whiskey’s gone”, “Keep Me In Mind” and  “Jump Right In”, the crowd was going wild. As they started playing “As She’s Walking Away” Zac said: “Man it’d good to be with you, thank you for making it feel like home” and they continued the show with “Island Song” and a stripped down version of “Free” which showed off all their talents so well. Surprising to some of the audience members the boys then played one of their covers, Matellica’s “Enter Sandman”. Evidently not many people out here knew of the rock side of Zac Brown Band and when the band went on to play “All right” from their recently released “Grohl Sessions, vol.1” album some actually left the venue. Well, they missed out on an amazing show, let me tell ya! “Who Knows” and “Knee Deep” were next and Zac got off stage and walked through the crowd while singing my personal favourite “Colder Weather”.

Going on to play two more Grohl sessions songs, “Day For The Dead” and “Let it Rain”, the band then showed off their harmonies with “Goodbye In Her Eyes”.

Zac Brown BandTaking the time to explain what inspired him to write “Natural Disaster” Zac said: “I wrote this song after getting so much energy back from the crowd while playing in England last time. I wanted to recreate that. Create that rhythm, that bounce”. You could feel the end of the show was near when they played “Toes” which was followed by “Chicken Fried”. Every single person in the 20.000 capacity arena was on their feet and dancing when the band walked off stage. Not wanting them to leave yet they begged for more and out came all eight of them in glow in the dark skeleton suits! Finishing off the evening with their current title track single “Uncaged” which morfed into the guitar riff of “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, which eventually turned into “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”. The only song they, in my eyes, could finish the show with. Absolute brilliance! And to this day I’m not sure who does it better, Zac Brown Band or Charlie Daniels Band.

What was clear is that day one of the C2C was a huge success and we still had so much to look forward to! The Sunday started the same as the day before. The only difference was that people were already so excited to be there, they couldn’t wait to start the second night of headlining acts. And the artists definitely didn’t disappoint.

Chris YoungOpening up night two was non other then country music’s hottest bachelor Chris Young. His baritone voice has already won over many female heart. Only getting 45 minutes to open the night Chris started with the title track to his current album, “A.M.”, and went on to play his current single “Who I Am With You” followed by another song of the album that is getting airtime on this side of the pond “Lonely Eyes”. Also including older songs like “That Makes Me”, “You” and “Voices”. Chris visibly enjoyed playing a cover of ZZ Top’s “Every Girl’s Crazy Bout A Sharp Dressed Man”. After ending his set with “Tomorrow” it was clear that not just the ladies love this man. He can count on many new European fans from now on.

Next up was The Band Perry. The siblings had just been out touring in Europe and most of the audience had therefor just seen them perform smaller stages in their home countries. That might have been the reason why the audience kind of fell flat. There wasn’t much reaction from the crowd to the energetic performance of the trio. After playing songs like “All Your Life”, “I’m A Keeper” and “Night Gone Wasted” (of which you can see a video below) Kimberly explained that the song “Pioneer” was all about being proud of who you are and where you come from. Which was then followed by Neil bringing on the English flag while their violinist played the English anthem.

Rascal FlattsRascal Flatts were up next and started their set with “Banjo”. It’s great to see these three guys back on stage out here and having a blast. Fans were loving it, I was loving it! Continuing with “Fast Cars And Freedom”, “One Good Love” and their tank you song to the crowd “Here’s To You”, the boys played nothing but hit after hit. The visibly enjoyed the crowds reaction and Gary decided, without the others knowing, to jump off stage and see the fans up close at some point. “Love You Out Loud”, “These Days” and their current single and title track to the soon to be released album, “Rewind”, were next. The Flatts were definitely stealing the show and their own enthusiasm was infectious. After “Why Wait” they took the time to joke around a bit, if you know Jay you know he’s a jokester, and then gave us a stunning performance of “Broken Road” (of which you can also see a video below). Following up with“Me And My Gang”, a cover of Bruno Mars’ “When I was Your Man” and “What Hurst The Most” the Flatts finished their set with “Summer Nights” and left us all excited and wanting more.

Brad Paisley and Chris YoungBut tonight’s headliner was about to take stage and during the short break you could feel the excitement in the air. Brad Paisley is one of the few country artists that has been playing Europe regularly over the last few years and you an see what effect it has been. There wasn’t an empty seat in the arena when he came on to play “Southern Comfort Zone” and “Saturday Night”. Bringing out Chris Young again to join him in singing “Outstanding In Our Field”, a song of his latest album “Wheelhouse”, you could see the fun Brad brings to a show. Chris has been on tour with Brad for a while now and it was jokes all around.

During “This is country music” the big screen behind the band showed the artists as Brad quoted them in the lyrics. At the end of the song it showed a picture of George Jones saying “You were country music, we miss you George”. Brad kneeled down and took his hat off to him. If you’ve seen, or heard, Brad at George’s funeral you’d understand how much he loved that man and his music so to see him honour him like that was such a touching moment.

Brad PaisleyThis wouldn’t be a Brad Paisley show if he didn’t show of his impeccable guitar skills during an instrumental song and while with some artists guitar solo’s can seem to be just that little bit to long, you can never get enough of Brad playing that guitar.

Continuing the show with “She’s Everything” Brad took a fan’s phone to make a video of him singing and the audience while also making sure to include a ‘selfie’ before giving it back. “Old Alabama” and “Online” followed before he made his way to the second stage in the back of the arena and said: “I’ve been to so many concerts where I was in the back of the room so I decided to come play back here for you too” and then jokes: “There is so much else all of you could’ve been doing tonight so thank you so much for staring at my ugly face.” He continues the jokes by playing “I’m still a guy” and dedicating it to the boys that played the stage before him that night. Singing: “These days there’s dudes getting facials – Chis – Manicured, waxed and botoxed – Gary – With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands – Joe Don – You can’t grip a tacklebox”, which was just hilarious!

The show continued with “Mud On The Tires”, “I’m Gonna Miss Her” and “Whiskey Lullaby” which saw the return of The Band Perry to the stage as Kimberly sang the female part of the song. Somehow the women in the audience kind of felt a bit left out as we’ve grown to love being able to sing that part of the song back to Brad but it didn’t keep us from singing it anyway.

Brad PaisleyFinishing the show with “Ticks”, ”Water” and “Mona Lisa” and the encore “Alcohol” the festival was over and everyone left the O2 arena excited about what they’ve just seen. Many still singing “Who-hohoo who-ho-ho” from “Mona Lisa” on their way to their car, bus or other mode of transportation.

What an amazing weekend. We got our country music fix alright! I can not wait for next year’s lineup to be announced. And as the ticket sales for next year have already begun, I can only expect the absolute best. Who knows maybe Dierks will convince Luke, Jason, Blake and Miranda to come over. We can only speculate right now but one thing’s for sure, this year has been absolutely brilliant. So for next year I say, BRING IT ON!!!

Make sure to have a look at more pictures and videos below.

O2 Arena entrance Jill and Kate Martina McBride Martina McBride Dierks Bentley Dierks Bentley Dierks Bentley Dierks Bentley Zac Brown Band Zac Brown Band Zac Brown Band Chris Young Chris Young Rascal Flatts Rascal Flatts Brad Paisley

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